General Course Information

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW3125
Course name: Comparative Constitutional Law
Programme offered under: LLB Programme
Semester: First
Designated research course: Not applicable
Specialization: Not applicable
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Course offered to non-law students: No
Credit point value: 6 credits

1.2 Course description

This course provides an introduction to comparative constitutional law. In this field, there are many topics of interest, including: constitutional design and change; institutional configuration; federalism; collective identity; etc. We will discuss many of these issues, but our focus will be on rights protection, also known as “constitutional justice.” After introducing basic theories of modern constitutions, we will examine in detail the consolidation of the proportionality framework as the dominant standard for rights adjudication. Most of you will be familiar with proportionality analysis (PA), a highly intrusive mode of judicial supervision, as a (truncated and infirm) version of it is in place in Hong Kong. PA permits government to limit rights, but only when necessary to achieve a sufficiently important public interest. Since the 1950s, virtually every powerful domestic and international court has adopted PA, if in various forms. The result has been a massive – and truly global – transformation of law and politics. While there is variance in the intensity of proportionality-based dialogues, such interactions are today at the very heart of governance – and normative controversy – in the modern constitutional state and treaty systems.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Alec Stone Sweet asweet@hku.hk CCT 903 By email

Learning Outcomes

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Compare and critically evaluate competing descriptive theories of constitutional drafting.

CLO 2 Apply social science theories to describe and explain the behavior of courts.

CLO 3 Describe and explain competing views of the impact of globalization on constitutional law.

CLO 4 Demonstrate awareness of the global context of domestic constitutional law, and the relationship between domestic law and supranational law.

CLO 5 Critically evaluate constitutional jurisprudence and make constitutional arguments from a comparative perspective.

2.2 LLB Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Please refer to the following link: https://course.law.hku.hk/llb-plo/

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course



3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Responses papers TBC 30% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Take home exam 16 Dec 2023 70% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

The final exam will take place on a day chosen by the administration during the finals period. It will consists of four questions, divided into two sections. You will choose and write from one question in each section.

Response Papers: All students are required to produce two (at least 1000-word) discussion papers on two different sessions (and topics) of their choice.

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: https://www.law.hku.hk/_files/law_programme_grade_descriptors.pdf

Learning Activities

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 3 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

To be advised by the convenor(s).

Learning Resources

5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle
Core reading list: TBA
Recommended reading list: TBA

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/